HIKING NZ TRACK-CUTTING
Matakitaki and D’Urville Valleys, Nelson Lakes National Park
Lees Creek, Upper Wairau River Area
Fyfe Track, Kahurangi National Park
Last year the Backcountry Trust engaged Hiking NZ, whose guides had lost most of their work due to Covid-19 tourism downturn, to undertake several much-needed track maintenance projects in the Nelson conservancy. Funding came from the Government’s Kaimahi for Nature programme.
A number of Hiking NZ guides, already very competent outdoors people, completed a track-cutting induction course with the Department of Conservation, before tackling the work.
During October 2020, the Hiking NZ team followed up work begun earlier by an Ultimate Descents team in the Matakitaki Valley of Nelson Lakes National Park. They cut the track between East Matakitaki and Bobs Hut, before making good headway on the track to Three Tarn Pass (which leads over the Spenser Mountains to the Maruia Valley). While on site, the guides also completed the last of the painting required for both East Matakitaki and Bobs Huts (previously restored by the Ultimate Descents team – see blogs).
The second stint in November 2020 involved cutting tracks at the head of the D'Urville Valley, also in Nelson Lakes. The team, based at George Lyon Hut, worked up-valley towards D'Urville Biv, clearing some small windfalls, and made progress on the route leading to Moss Pass. Dan Murphy, Director of Hiking NZ, said, ‘It was fairly wet, but not too bad.’ One guide also removed some lead nails from the long-drop roof.
In both these operations DOC staff qualified for chainsaw operations managed the more technical windfalls, while the Hiking NZ team cleared the left-over debris and used scrub bars for other vegetation. Murphy says his team ‘really enjoyed it.’
In early December 2020 the team was back in action again, this time working on the Lees Creek Track (Upper Wairau River Area).
Next, they tackled the Fyfe River Route, which begins near Mt Owen and follows the valley towards Murchison (Kahurangi National Park), and enjoyed much better weather.
The Fyfe valley has a predator-control trapping programme to help protect whio (blue duck). As for others areas, the trapping is making a big difference for the population in southern Kahurangi National Park, as Dan Murphy observed: ‘The valley was a great place to visit, and we saw several pairs of whio, including a whole family of nine!'
'Quite a tricky track to negotiate at times with a scrub bar, but we came out unscathed and got the job done.’
Murphy was grateful for the work, and thanked the BCT for the opportunity: ‘I know our crew would be keen for more.’
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